Weeping Moon: Banshee Series Book 5
Weeping Moon: Banshee Series Book 5
Weeping Moon: Banshee Series Book 5

Weeping Moon: Banshee Series Book 5

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Evil cries out in the night…

Benton Bertrand is plagued by nightmares. But the horrifying images he sees in his dreams are not mere fantasy. Benton is a banshee, a harbinger of doom. His visions are premonitions of death. And only he has the power to stop them from coming true…

When Benton and Nicole travel to the Fort Wayward tribal festival, they hope the wisdom of the Siksika tribe elders will help Benton come to grips with his terrifying abilities. But they soon learn they are not the only ones drawn to the sacred grounds.

The duo is haunted by a ravenous ghost that stalks the festival. This vicious entity uses the cries of an infant to lure the unwary, and its savage claws to disembowel its victims. As the tribe per-forms a ritual to banish the deadly spirit, Benton and Nicole hunt the evil creature, hoping to end its reign of terror before it fully begins.

But when a ghost from Benton’s past clashes with this deadly new spirit, their unholy conflict threatens to unleash a devastating curse.

Death is coming… And this time, even a banshee may not be enough to stop it.

161 pages

Chapter 1

Soft light flickered across the canvas covered walls, creating more shadows than it defeated. At the center of the teepee, Nicole hunched over the only light source, her hands raised, and her fingers twisted into claws.

“It was then, as he looked over the rim of the dirt-filled box, that he realized–”

“The guy was a vampire,” Benton cut in.

Nicole’s face twisted up in frustration. When Benton only smirked in response, she snatched up a marshmallow and tossed it at his head. It bounced off his temple and disappeared into the darkness that clustered around the edges of the room.

“Did you have to spoil it?” she asked.

“Everyone knows that Dracula is a vampire, Nic,” Benton defended. “Why are you even telling that as a campfire story?”

“Because we have a test on it after the break, and I know for a fact that you haven’t even cracked the spine of that book.”

He shook his head. Only in Fort Wayward would the whole town take a week-long hiatus so everyone could go to a powwow.

“I’ll listen to the audiobook,” he dismissed.

“How is that any different from what I’m offering you right now?”

He shrugged. “Fewer eatable projectiles?”

“Fine.” Huffing out her annoyance, Nicole swept her hip-length hair over one shoulder and set about platting it. It was a nightly ritual to prevent it from becoming one massive knot while she slept. “You tell a campfire story then.”

“We don’t even have a campfire.”

He jabbed a finger at the glowing plastic flames. The whole ‘campfire’ moved a few inches. Nicole used her toes to push it back into place.

“There were only child-friendly teepees left when I booked,” she protested.

“You don’t trust me with an open flame, do you.”

“I do not,” she admitted quickly. “In my defense, you’re really accident prone.”

His fingertips began to rub at the tough, scarred skin of his right palm. The consequences of touching a flame that no one else could see or feel. Months had passed without the scars fading or complete sensation returning, and he’d given up hope that either would happen.

I’ve got another ghost scar to go with it now, he thought.

Thoughtlessly, he shifted, pressing two fingertips against his side. The thin material of his threadbare Chicago Cubs shirt did little to hide the raised scar tissue. Baykoks were ghostly hunters and had pretty good aim. Nicole hadn’t been able to see the arrow itself, only the damage it had left behind, but she had insisted she knew the damage it should have caused. The memory came with such clarity that he could hear her voice ringing in his ears. The arrow would have hit your lungs. Ripped open your liver. Benton, you should be dead right now.

Benton pressed a little harder against the small ridge marring his torso. It had only taken a few days for it to heal beyond the point of pain. Now, just like with his hand, he couldn’t feel the touch at all.

I should be dead right now. The thought made the other scar begin to throb. The one that curled around his skull, created by a crushing blow and a surgeon’s craftsmanship to save his life. He didn’t dare touch it. A part of him was sure he would still feel the blood.

I should have died a long time ago. But now I have Nicole.

She was a hurricane contained in human skin. Vibrant and unpredictable and impossible to stand up against. He still didn’t know why she had decided that she would put up with him. A stupid decision, really. One he was happy she had made. They hadn’t known each other for a full year yet, and she had already saved his life more than once.

“Benton?”

He jerked, looking up to see Nicole watching him expectantly. Obviously, it wasn’t the first time she had called his name.

“Sorry?” he asked.

“Are you okay?”

“Yeah, just–” He shook his head and forced a smile. “Just thinking. It’s nothing important. Let’s get back to making fun of you.”

“Oh, yay,” she groaned playfully.

He chuckled and flopped onto his back.

“This sleeping on the ground thing is horrible for my spine.”

“Actually, a lot of doctors say that it’s pretty good for you.” Nicole’s hands never paused as they worked their way to the tips of her hair. “And you might want to actually spend a night camping before you complain.”

“I love that your need to correct me won out over your impulse to chastise me,” Benton noted.

She scolded. “Are you calling me a nag?”

“Yes.”

“Why do people keep saying that?”

“Probably because of the constant nagging,” Benton said.

Without thinking, he reached back and pressed his palms against the earth. Planting his feet, he pushed himself up, forcing his spine into a near perfect arch. A few joints popped, and he felt the tension slowly release.

“So, do you have a plan for tonight?” he asked.

The remark was a little passive-aggressive, but he wasn’t about to change it. When Nicole first came to him with the idea of coming to the week-long powwow, he had reminded her that he was a Banshee. An omen of death. Forced to live in the skin of a killer every night and wake with the name of a victim filling his head. That, and an inhuman, blood-chilling, wall-shaking wail. It made cohabitation difficult. A more vindictive side of him was waiting with anticipation for the moment Nicole realized that what she had so easily dismissed was actually a massive obstacle. Her silence made him glance over. Half obstructed by his own arm, he got an upside-down view of her face.

“Why are you looking at me like that?” he asked with mounting dread.

“How are you getting your spine to do that?” she countered.

It was hard to shrug while in his position, but he considered it worth the effort.

“I like to dance. It’s made me flexible. Can we get to the other topic?”

Nicole blinked at him, a small smile curling the corners of her mouth. Oh no. Benton knew that look. Her rattlesnake smile. It was the only warning sign she offered before striking, latching onto whatever subject, question, or task that had taken her fancy and refused to let go. She was capable of terrifying levels of fixation. If she becomes a serial killer, we’re all screwed. Not sure what had grabbed her attention, he flopped back down and let his long, lithe limbs fall where they pleased.

“You asked for the tent furthest from the group, didn’t you?” he asked. “You know that they’ll still hear me screaming, right?”

She snapped out of her daze and beamed. Just in time, he reasoned.

“Way ahead of you.”

She lunged for her backpack, half squirming out from under her fur bedding to grab it. Stretching to her tips, she finally found what she was looking for. She tossed the small parcel his way, and he caught it with the same amount of attention. There was a short poem attached to the front of the tiny mesh bag. Holding it high above his head, Benton read it aloud.

Night terrors wake me up at night,

I’d hate for that to happen to you.

So here’s a pair of earplugs,

And hopefully, you’ll sleep through.”

“I put one in every teepee,” Nicole said proudly. “And left a basket of them by the entrance for the campsite. I know they won’t do much to block out a Banshee wail, but it’ll give us an excuse.”

How do you afford these things?! Out loud, he said, “Thanks, Nic.”

He heaved the bag back her way.

“You’re going to be a lot closer, though. Not worried about hearing loss?”

“I’m ready for that, too,” she declared, brandishing a pair of noise-canceling headphones, the big, bulky kind that people wore when using jackhammers. “One of these days, you’ll stop underestimating me.”

A smirk stretched his lips as he lay sprawled out across the floor, staring up at where the poles of the teepee met. He hadn’t known there was an actual gap there. It made sense, he supposed. Somewhere for the smoke to go and all that. Situated a good distance away from the rest of the campers, they were on the outskirts of the floodlights. He had never been anywhere that had a night sky like Fort Wayward. A full moon had started to rise. It was as bright as a beacon but still didn’t wash out the stars.

“It would be a whole lot smarter to just keep me out of this situation,” he said.

“You worry way too much,” Nicole said. “It’s not good for your health.”

“I even it out with vast amounts of spite,” he dismissed with a loose wave of his hand.

There was a shuffle and a drag, and suddenly some of the blankets were dumped onto his stomach. Before he had time to protest, Nicole settled down beside him, shuffling closer to share his view of the stars.

“Do you want to come jogging tomorrow?” she asked. “Mom and I are going out early.”

“Nah, I’m going to tap out of that. Does your mom still have it out for me?”

“She’s still a little annoyed,” Nicole admitted. “You were supposed to wait a few more days, after all.”

Benton leveled a glare at her. In one of their lowest points, Nicole had been forced to kill a man to protect him. Murder, even in self-defense, wasn’t something that Nicole wanted to admit to her police officer mother. Unfortunately, Constable Dorothy Rider was very good at her job and had quickly put the pieces together. Both of them knew. Neither wanted to approach the subject, and the weight of it all was slowly eating away at their relationship.

At the time, Benton was on pretty good terms with Dorothy. They had a good thing going. He’d dream about killers and pass the information onto her so she could actually do something about it. Apparently, that was his role in this world. Not to save anyone, but warn them, announce to strangers that death was coming for them. Because of this, he felt he had the right to tell Dorothy to talk to her daughter. And that if she didn’t, he would. Watching his only friend spiral down to a pit of self-hatred was more than he could stand.

But then the Baykoks started hunting people down, and everything had been put off. In the end, Benton had told Nicole early, and Dorothy was still a little sour about that. Or was it because we disobeyed her to run off into a killer-infested haunted forest? He gave it a little more thought. Yeah, that’s probably it.

Whatever the case, he had enough on his hands without getting involved with the Rider girl drama.

His own relationship with his parents had started rapidly going downhill a few months before his tenth birthday. That was when the dreams had started. Trying to help had only led to accusations, suspicions, threats, violence, and more than one therapist insisting that he needed to be institutionalized or medicated. Or the police insisting that he must have some kind of connection to the real killers. For years he told everyone who would listen that something else was happening. His parents fled to every major city in Canada before coming to Fort Wayward as a last resort.

And that was where he had met Nicole. Funny how no one heard me until I gave up. He snuck a glance at his friend.

It only took her a second to feel it. “What’s up?”

“Nothing. Just thinking.”

“You’re doing that a lot tonight.”

“There’s nothing else going on to entertain me,” he teased.

As predicted, she instantly took offense. She thumped him in in the stomach. Hard.

“Hey, I was shot recently,” he protested.

“I know you’re already healed.”

“That’s not the point.”

She thumped him again.

“Use your words, Nic,” he chuckled.

Suddenly, the air shifted around them. It was barely noticeable. Something that played on the edges of his awareness. Solid but not. A fog that rolled into his bones and robbed him of his breath.

“Oh, no. You’re doing that thing with your face,” Nicole said as she waved a hand in his general direction. “What’s wrong?”

I don’t know. Just picturing how well that would go over, he thought, but instead, he said, “Firstly, I don’t do a thing with my face.”

“Yes, you do,” Nicole cut in.

He ignored her. “Secondly, I’m thinking the same thing I have been for the last week. This is a bad idea.”

“Do you know how much effort went into getting your parents to agree to this?”

“Your mom convinced them,” Benton corrected.

“I didn’t say that it was my effort,” Nicole dismissed. “Come on, Benton. We haven’t had a chance to hang out together in ages.”

“Because we were both grounded for running off repeatedly.”

“We were fighting an evil that had escaped the grave!”

“Yeah,” he said slowly. “My parents still won’t admit that exists.”

“Well, we were still in the right. Heroes, one could even say.”

“Really?” he smiled.

“I’d, of course, never ask anyone to call us that.” She added with a smile, “But we are.”

“Right.”

“And I think that we deserve a break. This can be our holiday.”

“And you’re not in any way annoyed that my parents don’t like you?”

Her cheeks puffed out as her face flushed red. “I’m winning them over.”

“Nope. You’re back to square one. They don’t like you at all. They say you’re a horrible influence on me.”

Frustration and righteous indignation rolled off her in waves. Something he shouldn’t have found amusing but always ended up chuckling over.

“Just, give them time. They’ll come around.”

Still smiling, he slipped deeper under the blankets, burrowing down for protection against the cold night air. “Whatever you say, Nic. Turn off the campfire, will you?”

She rolled her eyes and fumbled with the small device.

“Goodnight to you too, Benton,” she teased.

“Night,” he mumbled. “And remember to put your ear protection on.”

“I’ll do it once you fall asleep,” she assured him.

There was a soft click, and the light died.

It didn’t do much of anything since the moonlight was bright enough on its own. It poured through the gap in the ceiling while the artificial light pressed around the edges of the entrance flaps. Muffled sounds drifted in from the few people that were still awake. The steady background noise life was almost nostalgic.

Silence had been the hardest thing to get used to when he had moved to Fort Wayward. From the moment he was born, he had never even set foot in the suburbs. City centers were the only thing his parents could stand. This small town, hidden away from the world in the Albertian grasslands, was as different as it could get. No nightlife, no business that stayed open past five p.m., and only two restaurants, both family style. That was all irritating in its own way.

But it had been damn near impossible to get to sleep without the constant lullaby of traffic, loud neighbors, and police sirens. The random owl screech or howling coyote were of little compensation.

Almost as if conjured by his thoughts, an owl swept across the gap above him, massive wings flapping silently. A small smile curled his lips at the sight of the colossal bird. They were becoming a familiar sight. Releasing a contented sigh, he tucked an arm under his head and relaxed. Sleeping on the ground was a new experience. He had never been camping before, not that the teepee counted in his mind. Laying in the dark, he listened to Nicole’s breathing steadily slow.

No matter how he thought about it, he couldn’t figure out how Dorothy had managed to convince his parents to let him come to this, let alone share a teepee with only Nicole. Their logic was sound, of course. Benton knew far too much about upcoming murders not to have something to do with it. That didn’t stop him from being hurt that his parents would more readily believe that he was the world’s most prolific serial killer rather than think he might have some ability beyond their understanding.

Shoving the thoughts aside he closed his eyes. The strange sensation bloomed once more within his chest. Stronger this time. Enough that it made his eyes snap open.

“Benton?” Nicole asked sleepily.

“It’s nothing,” he whispered, rolling onto his side. “Go back to sleep.”

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